We quizzed Arola about his thoughts on design in the appropriate setting of this year’s London design fair, 100% Design:
Interiors from Spain: What is the main inspiration for your designs? What are their main reference points?
Antoni Arola: I’m inspired by everything. Simply observing everything around me provides me with ample inspiration for creating new products. Of course, there are maestros of design whom we are all familiar which our work refers back to, but it’s the observation of things in real life that inspires me the most. The fundamental channel for all my ideas is my personal affinity to other things: my preferences, tastes, ideas, fond memories… my personality. The moment I feel an affinity with something, sparks really fly. But I do also have my design and architecture heroes who inspire me such as Achille Castiglioni, Arne Jacobsen and Charles Eames. Ferran Adrià is another inspirational figure to me, all the more so I find when you meet him in the flesh.
IFS: What are the defining characteristics of your work?
AA: If I had to sum it up in a word, I’d describe it as elemental. I’m interested in design which is elemental in the sense that it is ultra-simple and basic. If I can create designs which transcend being associated with a particular time and place, I feel I’ve achieved what I set out to do. My ultimate goal as a a designer is for my designs to be sold all over the world and for them to last many years. I aim to create design with a universal quality, appealing as much, say, to a Chinese person as to a Pole.
IFS: What projects have you got planned for the future and how does the current economic climate affect these?
AA: I’ve focused on lighting for some time now, which is what I know how to design best. I see the present in terms of the future, which is always changing, and I wouldn’t want to feel pigeonholed as doing any one thing. It’s difficult to age well and to do so you need a lot of energy.
IFS: What’s your view on the phenomenon of new generations of young Spanish designers who have been educated abroad?
AA: Among the new crop of designers I can see a whole spectrum of people, from interesting designers to those who churn out a lot of rubbish. And the work of a designer, its development, is complex and slow. But as in every generation, there are interesting designers out there. It takes time for designers to create good things, it’s not easy to make good products. Designing is a complex business, just like making music. It’s hard to do it well.
IFS: What trends in design can you see coming up in the future?
AA: Technology is the thing that’s advancing more than anything. On another note, we should make the best use of the economic crisis by seeing it as a time for reflection. Also in this economic climate, we need to take advantage of putting everything in order. What’s missing now is information. This applies to design too. We need to explain if an incandescent or mercury lighbulb pollutes the environment, or whether it can be recycled or not. These things need to be clearly explained to people so that they know how make decisions in a more responsible fashion.